LA CYGNE, Kan. — A group of homeowners living in Linn County, Kansas say their Homeowners Association is preventing people from accessing their homes.
The community, called Tanglewood Lakes is a private community, 60 miles south of Kansas City. It consists of three lakes and an estimated 2,200 property owners.
“It’s such a hidden treasure,” said property owner, Sherri Toynbee.
“I love the quiet, the serenity, the peace of mind that you get that comes with that country,” said Eva Rioajas.
FOX4 spoke to several people who lived throughout the lake, who say the one thing that spoils it all, is the HOA. They also say rules are not enforced equally.
“There’s always going to be disagreements, there’s always going to be debates about how rules should be and how they should be applied, but what we have seen in Tanglewood in last couple of years is a trend that has been very harmful, hurtful, non-compassionate and inhumane,” said attorney, John Ivan, who is based in Miriam.
This is a fight that has been happening silently for at least four years.
Neighbors tell FOX4, it does not matter if you pay your annual $200 HOA dues, you could lose your gate access at any moment and it’s all up to the board’s discretion.
In this 54-page Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)report, it records that gate access for 737 people was deactivated between October 2018 and October of 2020; all due to violations.
“They won’t give us gate card to go in and out, so we are like a prisoner on our own property,” said James Horton.
Sherri Toynbee is one of hundreds who lost access back into the community and their home.
“We lost total gate access since March of last year. They tell us we can leave, but not return,” Toynbee said.
Toynbee said her nightmare began when she purchased these two alpacas, named Izzabelle and Osmond in 2020.
She was told the animals were a violation of the homeowners’ association covenant.
She claims the board tried to forcibly remove them from her property, despite having them registered as emotional support animals, authorized by her doctor and secured behind 6-foot privacy fences.
“There was literally four to six sheriff patrol up there with a tow truck and trailer. They were coming to get them. They were literally going to forcefully come on our land and remove them,” Toynbee said.
Another family of nine tells FOX4 they were forced to spent brutal winter months living in tents after the HOA had them remove their campers, then denied their approval for a building permit.
“There’s other people who’ve lived out here for years in their campers and still have their campers, but us, we have a family of nine out here. Came in and took our campers and told us, we’re not even allowed to bring out campers back out here,” Horton said. “Because of their rules and what they want to throw at certain people, this is what they’ve left us with.”
Ivan, who represents the Toynbee family says laws in Kansas allow HOAs to be creative, but while you can foreclose on property for not paying fees, dues and other major violations, you cannot limit access to residences, that’s a violation of the law.
In this particular case, he believes the bylaws and covenants may not even be valid.
He’s in court trying to fight the legality of the group.
“The covenant instituted by Lake Estates inc. In the 1970’s, gave five years to review and revise covenant from original developers. According to the records, there’s never been another covenant, it indicates at that point, it ended,” Ivan said. “But they have gone and enlarged their claims.”
“We’re not trying to destroy the association, we’re trying to protect the association, made up of all the unit owners, so that it can be fairly administered and managed,” Ivan said.
FOX4 made multiple requests to speak with Board VP and Head of Security for the Lake, Tate West on camera. He declined.
Instead, FOX4 was promised a written statement we are waiting to receive.
“I think that at some point and time, there has to come humanity in government. We’ve tried to take it to court, we’ve tried to have it adjudicated, we’ve tried to do everything the legal way and have gotten nowhere,” Riojas said.
John Ivan, the attorney for the Toynbee family filed a court order, they are asking the courts to immediately and temporarily take over management of the HOA.
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